A Kildare man who raped an 11-year-old girl during blindfold games, when he was aged 15, has been sentenced to four years in jail, with the final two years suspended.
The now 23-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, set up blindfold games with the girl during which he would put his penis into her mouth.
The victim told the Central Criminal Court that the abuse made her feel sick and that the abuser had a control over her which struck fear into her.
Hugh Hartnett SC, defending, previously urged Mr Justice Tony Hunt not to impose a custodial sentence, given that the man was only 15 when he carried out the offence and therefore a minor.
Mr Hartnett said that under the 2001 Children’s Act, “detention must be considered only as a last resort” when sentencing a legal juvenile.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Hunt said it was clear the young age of the offender should be taken into account, along with the fact that he was clearly immature at the time.
“I don’t think he appreciated the significance and long-lasting damage he was inflicting by his reckless experimentation,” the judge said.
However he said the man had a “significant degree of knowledge and knowingness that he was doing wrong and he was doing serious wrong.
“Unfortunately I have come to the view that even with his immaturity and young age, there was deliberate planning of a continuous campaign of abuse against this young girl,” the judge said.
“There is a world of difference between a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old when it comes to sexual matters,” he added.
The man pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault in a shed at his home in Co. Kildare on dates in October and December 2008. He also pleaded guilty to oral rape at his home in April 2009 and in a woodland near his home in May 2009.
After his arrest in 2013 the man admitted the offending. He told gardaí that “it was just an experiment” and that he had wondered what it would be like.
He said he was very sorry. He has no other convictions. The victim, now aged 19, said the abuse took away her childhood and destroyed her self-confidence.
Handing down a four-year sentence, with the final two years suspended, Mr Justice Hunt said he would have imposed a longer sentence had the man not been a minor at the time of the offence.
“I’m satisfied the accused's young age and his associated lack of maturity and judgment significantly reduced his culpability,” he said. He noted the man was remorseful, had completely rehabilitated himself, had never come to garda attention since and was highly unlikely to re-offend. The man's family members cried and embraced him as he was taken into custody.